Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Prostitute and You

God went to great lengths to redeem one prostitute.

In my last post, I wrote about Rahab the Prostitute and how she never seemed to shed that title despite years of faithfully following her God, the God of the Israelites.

Chapter 2 of the book of Joshua contains the account of her interaction with spies. She confesses with her mouth her faith in the God of Jacob, Abraham and Moses. She helps and hides the spies. She ensures their safe return to their camp and then the chapter ends with her waiting with a scarlet chord tied in her window - the window of her home - oh yeah, that is located within the famous wall of Jericho.

Three chapters pass before we hear of Rahab again. Joshua had not forgotten her. Neither had the spies forgotten the oath they had made with her. But there was Someone else who hadn't forgotten her either. When the battle plans were laid out, special instructions were given -but that was before the wall fell . . .

There is no question how the wall fell. God knocked it down. In chapter 6, it says that the wall "fell down flat." Wait, what? But Rahab's house, the one with the window and the chord, was a part of the wall. Somehow, that section of the wall was not flat. The spies went back in and came out with not just Rahab but her whole family too. How? Idk . . . God.

The spies didn't save Rahab. God did. And by His instruction, Joshua saw to it that Jericho's only survivors were sparred.

I've studied her before and find myself researching her again as I prepare to lead a ladies' study at church on Friday morning. Despite my prior familiarity, God never ceases to show me new things in His Word when I study. This time has been no different.

The spies that Rahab hid on her roof were not crucial to the taking of the city of Jericho. They did not gain some intelligence that led to the falling of that crazy wall.

When he sent the two spies, maybe Joshua was remembering his own spy mission. In his youth when he and Caleb came back triumphantly ready to enter the Promised Land a generation before, their report was disregarded for the pessimistic account of their peers. Then the people were punished for their lack of faith. Now their children were ready to take possession of the same territory. Maybe Joshua was looking for a little validation and sent the spies to Jericho for his own reasons.

OR 

Maybe God Himself had prompted Joshua to send the spies because He knew of Rahab's faith and He knew He was going to miraculously redeem the pagan prostitute.

Maybe the spies, the hiding, the intrigue were all part of God's plan, not to take Jericho but to ensure that the life of a prostitute was spared.

His instructions to have them all, (women, children and even the old people), killed can seem unfair and harsh. Yet, God knew the heart of all of Jericho's citizens. He chose Rahab to spare. He wanted her.

In God's big plan, He had already picked Rahab to mother Boaz. He wanted HER influence on Boaz's boy, Obed, and all of Obed's sons, including a shepherd named David who would one day be King of all Israel.

In fact, God's big plan for Rahab was so big that this particular prostitute from Jericho would be in the very lineage of His own Son, Jesus.

It was her faithfulness in the everyday things that built and left this kind of legacy- not from the one time act of hiding a couple spies under the flax on her roof.

I'd say He redeemed Rahab in a big way. I'd say it was worth all the time and trouble for Him. He wanted her and He did what He had to so that she could be His . . .

I am thankful that He is still in the redeeming business today. He went to great lengths to make me His child too. Jesus tells us that the Good Shepherd will leave the 99 to get the 1.

Rahab and I have more common than one would think. I have part in God's bigger plan too. I hope my faithfulness in my every days leave a legacy that will point my children, grandchildren, my great-grandchildren and even beyond to walk in faith as well. . .

Dear Sister, dig into His Word. Let Him speak to you in it no matter how familiar you are with it. Rejoice in His redemption of you and thank Him for all He has done to complete it. Walk with Him faithfully all your days.

You might find you have a lot in common with a prostitute too . . .

Monday, May 21, 2018

Labels We Wear

Rahab, the Prostitute.

She is included in the Hebrews 11, "Hall of Faith," listed and commended for her faith. Yet, even there she is still labeled by her sin.

This has always bothered me. By her own words, she confesses that the God of Israel is THE God. She is included in the very lineage of Christ, yet, she almost always is remembered for her biggest sin.

Talk about a reputation to overcome.

Even though her faith had shown vividly where her loyalties were, I am sure she probably was still shunned by the Israelite community she joined. As far as the ratings of sins go, hers ranked pretty high. True, God sees all sin the same, but somehow, respectable folks are definitely more forgiving of some sins over others.

The Bible doesn't tell us about how Rahab felt about her label. It does tells us that she joined the Israelites and made her home with them. She converted. She left her pagan gods and sinful ways and followed the God she knew to be the One True God.

Maybe she resented being forever known as "the prostitute," or maybe she embraced it . . .

Through our weaknesses, our faults and our failures He is made strong. God shows off more of Himself in the places we would find least likely.

Think about it this way . . .

Every time Rahab was remembered as "the prostitute" her story was remembered as well.  She would not be mistaken for another woman of the same name - not confused for another woman named Rahab.

And what was exactly her story? God rescued the worst of the worst heathens from a pagan land, Jericho. He redeemed a foreign woman of no worth or morality and grafted her into the very ancestry of His own Son.

Rahab knew that the city and the land were the Lord's. She knew her past and her unworthiness. She knew she could do nothing to save herself - yet God did just that. He saved her life physically and spiritually.

The walls of Jericho, where she made her home, fell- yet she walked away unharmed.
Her son would marry Ruth and her great-grandson would be King David. Her legacy of faith would serve as evidence of her spiritual rebirth as well.

Every time Rahab is referred to as "the prostitute" God is glorified. What He did for her is remembered and we can't help but marvel at the goodness of our God.

We all have labels. We all have jobs and relationships and things we are known by. Some we may be pretty proud of. Others . . .  not so much. But each is an opportunity to allow others to see God's redemptive work in us.

How we mother our kids, speaks to the parent that God is to us.
How we support our spouse, displays the symbolic relationship Christ has with His Bride, The Church.
How we minister as a Sunday school teacher, small group leader, pastor's wife or simply a friend echos of how God has ministered to us as well.

Perhaps there are those in our lives that remember us from a harsh word, or a bitter exchange. Maybe there are those in our past that still define us by sins we struggled with a long time ago.

Regardless of our labels and all their connotations, let's live in a way that the mention of our name gives glory to God.

If I am to be Tara the Liar or Tara the Gossip - so be it, because the way I am now speaks to the redeeming nature of our God. That He would take one such as I to make His precious child. That He would pay the enormous price of His own Son's innocent blood to make me clean again. That He would somehow use my story and my labels to make Him famous and infamous at the same time.

While I do not share in Rahab's specific sin, my sin is as dark as hers nonetheless. I pray that I could leave a legacy like hers that my children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren would be known for their faith as well.

Whether the labels we wear are chosen by us or given to us, may we live in such a way that God is ultimately glorified no matter where or when or how we are mentioned or remembered.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Blessing


John Trent is an award winning author of more than 25 Christian marriage and family books, the creator of the Lion, Otter, Golden Retriever, and Beaver (LOGB) way of looking at personalities, and a gifted speaker.

John also was one of my husband’s roommates AND he was in our wedding.  AND, I have to confess that on one particularly snoopy day, while John was gone from their apartment, for some strange, curious reason, I looked in John’s closet.  Seemed like it was an ‘OK’ thing to do back then but sounds quite creepy and disturbing now!!

When I peered in I was amazed!!!  Astonished and astounded I stood gasping in wonder at what I saw before me!!  Perfection!  Not only was everything organized by pants, jeans, shirts, etc.…and hung all facing the same way with buttons buttoned….everything was color coordinated too!  Nothing was on the floor!!  NOTHING!  I grew up with three brothers and was engaged to Ernie and have seen many guys' closets before (this makes me sound really, really creepy) ….and never had I seen anything like what I saw in John’s!!  Crazy how I cannot for the life of me remember if I put on deodorant today but I can remember what John’s closet looked like 44 years ago!!

A.N.Y.W.A.Y….before I go in to way too much unnecessary, depressing, wish I had his organization skills, detail about John’s closet….I want to share why John came to my mind.

In my last post I mentioned my deep desire for my mother’s blessing.  As she lay dying I would spend hours by her bedside longing for her to say, “I love you, Dana”.  Praying for her to say words of acceptance and affirmation….begging God for it.

I spent years longing and striving for her blessing.  Her acceptance and approval and unconditional love.  It is clear to me that much of my low self-esteem and insecurities stem from this void I had.  Once it was no longer possible for me to hear those words from her I knew that my broken heart needed to be healed.  But how?

John Trent, along with Gary Smalley, wrote a book called “The Blessing” and it gave me much encouragement and insight and a desire to more than ever before BE a Blessing Giver!!  I might not have gotten the blessing I so longed for….but I can definitely be the blessing others need.

SO….my encouragement to you reading this is BE a blessing.  Speak the words of blessing like the Biblical Fathers did long ago.  May your daughter or your son or spouse or friend or stranger KNOW you love them unconditionally.  Speak affirmation DAILY to them….not always based on what they DO but based on who they ARE.  Also….read the book if you struggle with the void of not getting the blessing you desire.

Finally…..let me bless you.  You are precious.  You are loved.  You are worthy.  You are beautiful.  You are powerful.  You are gifted.  You are called.  You are His….

…..even if your closet (or your life) doesn’t look perfect!  Closets can be messy and so can Life!

The Blessing I Longed For and Never Got


Recorded in my journal August 28, 2006...

Sitting with mom feeding her ice chips

Putting lotion on her face (L’OrĂ©al)

             Her hands and arms (good smell-um)

             Her feet and legs (lotion)

Brushed her teeth, combed her hair.

She is talking a little…more than yesterday when we decided to call hospice.  They will be here at 1:00 p.m.

Cried with dad and the boys when she would not eat lunch yesterday…let her “go”.

She doesn’t seem to want to talk to …me…she did to Curt and Jay and Lee…

What is on her mind?  Is she listening to You?  Are You speaking to her?  Why am I mute?

Oh Lord, what am I to do? 

Lord, help me to articulate my heart.  I feel so wicked and sinful not speaking Truth to her.  I am mute….fearful.  I confess I am sad and weak and broken and selfish.

Matthew 8:23  “Jesus was sleeping…”  Fill me with trust

Verse 26  “Jesus said, why are you afraid?  You have so little faith”

Yes!  That is true!  I have so little faith….help my unbelief!

I don’t believe I am usable or loved in her life.

I know You are able.

Sometimes I wonder if it is faith so strong and amazing and powerful and all-encompassing that is enabling me to go through these heart-wrenching, difficult days….

Or

I often sense and hear the other voice that says it is because I am an insensitive and unloving and unforgiving daughter.

I believe You….that it is You walking right beside me….empowering me with amazing strength to serve mom….

             Washing

                           Wiping

                                        Weeping

                                                     Holding her weak hands

                                                                  Rubbing her bony back

Have I asked that You be glorified?  Oh that is my desire!

I choose to see the unseen….

Is it my fault?  I don’t have enough faith?

Did she ever love me?

I suppose I am in a dessert out here…

It’s the blessing I am longing for from mom….what I wait for….to hear her say I was a good daughter….that she loves me and is proud of me.

Oh Lord, I may never hear it!  Help me hear it from You and believe it!  That You love me…that You are proud of me.

To be honest I am not sure why I pulled out that journal this morning….nor why I am sharing this portion of it with you.  I do know why the tears flowed as I read page after page of her last days here on earth.  It is still hard.  Hard knowing she did not confess faith in my Jesus.  Hard longing for her acceptance and love and approval. 

Perhaps it was because Mother’s Day was just celebrated with sweet pictures and precious memories posted on social media.  Sometimes….for some people….Mother’s day is hard.

Perhaps it is hard for you.  I want you to know I am praying for you now.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Test Drive to Avoid a Cheap Substitute



Godiva chocolate candy is one of my favorites.  There is just something about that rich chocolate goodness that gives me joy.  Unfortunately, Godiva chocolates are most often not in my budget.  They are a VERY special treat maybe once a year.  I usually stick with the budget friendly Hershey bar or M & M’s which provides me with a happy soul.

However, once I decided to try a chocolate variety from dollar store.  Hey, don’t laugh!  It was only a dollar.  Guess what?  It was AWFUL!!  Not only was it not rich chocolate but it was grainy.  It was almost like the ingredients were not mixed together correctly.  IT WAS GROSS!! I learned never to settle for a cheap substitute when you can have the best.

In ministry, we have a difficult time finding and developing friendships.  Who can you trust?  Who REALLY wants to be your friend or do they just want inside information?  For me, I so want friends.  They make my life richer and more fun.  As I have shared many times, the Lord has placed a handful (literally, I can count them on my two hands) of ladies who are true and trusted friends.  I always know they have my back.

Unfortunately, too many times I have been so lonely that I have accepted cheap substitute friends.  Oh my!  The mess these people brought into my life because I was not willing to wait for the best.  These particular ladies tore me down emotionally and wore me out physically.  When I realized who they were and what they really wanted, it was too late.  Endless to say, I am very caution when developing friendships.

Fortunately, God has helped ease the pain of their ugliness and taught me to “test drive” a friendship.  I know this sounds awful.  Just like you test drive a car, in our ministry world, you must try it out before you know if this potential friendship is the right fit.  God has faithfully been opening my eyes and heart more to those ladies who are TRULY seeking my friendship.

My true, trusted troop of girlfriends accept me for who I am.  They know my warts and it is okay.  They do not have an agenda to “get to my pastor husband.”  What’s important is that they love Jesus and reflect His light.  They encourage and pray for me.  They also LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to have fun and eat the real deal chocolate.

Girlfriends, if you are seeking a true friend, here is my personally tested advice:
TEST DRIVE TO AVOID A CHEAP SUBSTITUTE!



Monday, May 7, 2018

Service Checkup



Last week I had three different service technicians in our home.  One came to do a check on my washer and dryer.  Oops!  He found a small issue with the drier and quickly fixed the problem. No matter how much I clean the lint from the dryer trap and attempt to clean the inside, there are always those sneaky little places in the tubing vent that catch lint that cause problems.  (Hmm, it is a little like eating a few bites of chocolate to curve your craving while you are watching your calories.  However, in a few hours, you shockingly discover you have eaten the whole chocolate bar). Thankfully, this service checkup caught an issue that could have caused destruction later.

Sometimes I wish humans came with a once a day mandatory service checkup.  Some days I fly through my day with little thought of God.  Oh, I may “manage” to squeeze in a brief few minutes of quiet time, but never take the time to reflect on what His word is trying to tell me.

On days like this my temperament is not even close to godly.  My impatience flares which breeds anger.  I find I lash out at people especially my family.  If only I had taken the time to reflect (or receive a spiritual checkup) from the Lord that morning, I may have avoided potentially dangerous situations.

Ladies, we need to do a spiritual checkup daily.  Ministry can be a wonderful experience.  However, let’s face it.  There are those days when it gets messy.  If we do not have our lives in order, Satan can throw an issue our way that can cause us to become bitter and angry.  Bitterness and anger breed broken fellowship with the body of Christ.

I challenge each of us to be more aware of the sneaky sins in our lives.  Don’t be afraid to ask the Lord to do a “service checkup” on you.  It may be painful at first, but in the long run, it will save you from a disastrous situation.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

LOVE IS......

LOVE IS........

Loving each other through the good times, bad times, easy times and hard times.

Love is when you are both "handicapped" because of issues and you still take care of each other.

My shoulder, arm and neck have limited my range and limited what I can and can not do.  I can not sleep right now in the bed or a recliner.  The only relief I get is attempting to sleep on the couch....with the back of the couch supporting my hurting shoulder area.  I am right-handed and this has affected my right side.

Roger is still in a sling from surgery so he is very much limited on what he can and can not do.  He is left-handed and had surgery on his left shoulder.  He can not sleep in the bed..........it pulls and puts too much pressure on his shoulder that has five screws in it.  His only relief at attempting to sleep is in the recliner in a reclining position.

Needless to say................between our "issues" and the stress of the "STORMS"....neither of us get very much sleep.

I am so THANKFUL that God chose to allow Roger and I to travel through this thing called "LIFE" together.  I could NOT do it without him and GOD'S HELP.

THAT is LOVE...................in August we will have traveled 39 married years together.